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Northwest Missouri State University

2017 Photo Essay Contest Winners

1st Place: Jordan Bustad

2017 winner

One picture isn’t capable of documenting my favorite part, story, or experience from studying abroad, and that’s because my favorite part about living abroad wasn’t just one experience or story, my favorite part was being challenged to grow, learn, experience, and trust myself day in and day out. I spent 127 days abroad in Granada, Spain where I found a new family, a unique culture, a foreign language, an unusual sense of freedom, and I embraced every new experience with open arms.

The freedom I found abroad allowed me to throw my caution into the wind and experience things I’d never done before. I faced my fears by jumping off the cliffs on the southern coast of Spain. I rolled down sand dunes in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, and I hiked up to the highest point in Granada to watch the sunset with my newfound and lifelong friends. I danced with an elderly Irishman at a pub in Ireland, took surfing lessons in Portugal, tasted authentic cuisine from eight different countries, and learned to treasure the ordinary days as much as I cherish the extraordinary ones.

The culture in Spain taught me the importance of appreciating all the moments shared with my loved ones, and that life isn’t meant to be spent working, it’s meant to be spent learning, living, and loving. Learning Spanish allowed me to have casual conversations with strangers on the streets of Granada, navigate my way around the bustling city of Barcelona, and order daily café con leche at my favorite coffee shop. Most importantly, learning a second language allowed me to build strong and lasting relationships with my host family and new friends.

My host family opened up their home to a complete stranger and showed me that laughing at your mistakes, eating bread with every meal, and dancing at the dinner table are some of the finest things in life. I left their home a part of their family, and they are forever a part of mine

My favorite part of studying abroad was the lessons I learned about life, history, the world, and the love I found for humanity. Choosing a picture that portrays the magnitude that my experience abroad affected my life is impossible, so the best I can do is share a picture in which I am completely in awe of the world around me, radiantly happy, and displaying the love I have for all the beautiful, breathtaking, heartbreaking, and astonishing corners of this world.

2nd Place Winner: Emily Cordell

emily cordell

I had the amazing opportunity of participating in an agriculture and environment expedition and internship in New Zealand during the summer of 2017. The program consisted of two weeks of traveling throughout the North and South Islands and a four week internship located in the Hawke’s Bay Region. I was able to tour almost every region of the country, gain work experience in another country, meet new friends, gain independence and even find out something special about myself.

For my four-week internship, I was fortunate enough to intern with the Hawke’s Bay Wine Company where I focused on an organic program overview. The company was looking at converting 75 hectares of their vineyards to 100% organic within the next three-five years. My task was to create a report and present my findings to the company. I created a ten page report which examined conventional vs. organic farming methods, production and financial impacts, domestic and global market trends, organic certification policies, and demographics. At the end of the internship we were required to create a presentation to communicate what we learned during the internship to our professors, classmates, and internship hosts.

Coming from an agriculture background, I began my internship with a preconceived negative view on organic farming practices. Organic farming for bulk crops (corn, wheat, soybeans, etc.) is not a sustainable way of farming, however, I found throughout my internship that it may be sustainable for some fruit and vegetable crops—like grapes. The main reason it is not sustainable is because of pest and weed management. However, vineyard staff have found a way to cultivate the weeds by driving small tractors down the rows and tearing up the weeds disrupting their growth. This is not entirely efficient, but it is manageable.

The two-week expedition was focused on agriculture and environment which was an interesting combination because of the conflict between the two. We completed a variety of site visits including a high country sheep station, department of conservation, wineries, and dairy farms which primarily focused on what negative impacts agriculture is causing to the environment. Throughout this program I noticed a severe bias against farmers and realized a lack of widespread agriculture education. The expedition and my internship coincided well to inspire me to switch my major to agriculture education. Through this life changing experience I found my passion for advocating agriculture.  

3rd Place: Courtney Martin

courtney martin

They say once you have traveled the world your heart never stops searching for adventure. I believe that this is true because a part of me still feels like it's in London just waiting for my return. There is something about going into a country that is like your own, but at the same time much different that changes you as a person. I had always dreamed of traveling across the ocean, but often times it felt so far out of reach. Fortunately through Northwest and my wonderful parents I was able to achieve that dream. I had the opportunity to travel with 11 other people who quickly became my close companions. We soaked in the rich culture, pushed ourselves outside of our comfort zones and were able to learn new things about ourselves. I rode the London, basked in the glory of Big Ben, became an expert tube rider, saw the throne the Queen sat upon as well as her palace and crown jewels. I got to see more than my heart could have ever imagined and it is something that will always be close to my heart. 

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